1914 - Old Political Map of The WorldMap Description Political Map of he World by J.G. Bartholomew LL.D., F.R.G.S., Cartographer to the King.
1914 - Old Political Map of The World
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This map shows the imperial divisions of the world at the onset of the First World War in 1914. European colonial empires had grown rapidly over the past century and by now the Great Powers of Europe had engrossed nine-tenths of Africa and much of Asia.
Prior to 1914, Europe had been run on balance-of-power politics, where a status quo was maintained between the major powers, often with unofficial agreements and alliances. However, the power system was changing and there was now less collaboration and more rivalry because empire powers wanted to preserve imperialism and control competitors (seen, for example, with the naval arms race between Britain and Germany). Imperial ambitions, shifting powers and rising tensions engulfed Europe.
The Balkans became a key area: this was the one region where the Habsburg empire of Austria-Hungary had a chance of maintaining its ascendancy. But, on 28 June 1914, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Habsburg throne, was assassinated in Sarajevo by a Serb nationalist, Gavrilo Princip. This incident threw Europe into turmoil. Austria-Hungary sought revenge, and invaded Serbia. German support for Austria and Russian support for Serbia gave way to a series of alliances and declarations of war involving global powers, and beginning the First World War.
Two major alliances emerged. The Allied (Entente) Powers consisted primarily of France, Britain, Russia and their associated empires and dependencies. They were later joined by, among others, Italy and, in 1917, the United States (the force of which would ultimately tip the balance). The Central Powers comprised Germany and Austria-Hungary and their empires, later joined by the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria.
The war was expected to be short-lived, but four years of particularly bloody warfare later, millions of lives had been lost, both military and civilian. An armistice on 11 November 1918 between the Allied Powers (the victors) and Germany, and the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, finally brought an end to the conflict.
Following the Great War, the map would change completely, with the defeat of the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires and the collapse of the Russian Empire following the communist revolution. Territories in grey on this map belong to the German Empire, and would, five years later, be reapportioned to the victors in the war by the Treaty of Versailles: Tanganyika would go to Britain; Togoland and German Cameroon would be shared between France and Britain; German South West Africa would go to South Africa; the Pacific Islands to New Zealand; and New Guinea to Australia.